Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.


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The Anatomy of a Thursday Night (in which I make the case for a cat)

My law-student husband “has” to go to class an hour away 2 days a week. Apparently they encourage attendance in law school too. And on Thursday nights, he usually doesn’t get home until 9:00ish.

I usually leave work around 4:30pm, which means on Thursday nights, I have 4.5 hours of free time before I have to fall back into my role as wife. But free time isn’t actually as glamorous as it sounds. Here, for posterity, I’d like to document my actions of last week Thursday night. This is also going to be a record that I can look back on fondly and LAUUUGGGGHHH at (maniacally, I can only imagine) once we have kids. “Free time? AHAHAHA! I remember that.”

Anyway, we’ll begin from the time when I leave work…after lingering for 10-15 extra minutes just because I know 4.5 hours is a lot of time to kill. But then I can’t take it anymore and jet on out. I grab a handful of cookies before I leave for some added sustenance for the hours ahead.

I head to uh, an unnamed location to pick up a Christmas present for Ken. While I am there, the nice salesman and the great deals lure me in and I purchase 2 more unplanned gifts. (At least there are rebates for them!). Impulse purchases are VERY unheard of for me, but I guess I just got a wild hair or something.

I next head to Meijer, where I work at redeeming a ton of coupons for free stuff. I make the mistake of picking up a 2-liter of Pepsi early on into the trip, and my arm gets tired of lugging the basketful of very heavy groceries, but I surf the clearance racks anyway. Including the kids bikes. Even though I don’t know of anyone who needs a bike, especially one from Meijer. Clearance shopping unfruitful, I take one last lap around the store and head to the check-out. SUCCESS: I spend less than $3 for $11 worth of groceries, including some needed cheese.

Next I amble on over (but in my car) to Target, where I do the whole “surf the clearance rack” thing all over again. And again don’t really buy anything, though I do grab some gorgeous napkins I’ve been eyeing and some coffee creamer for a friend. And spend $.20 total.

target haul

I then text said friend re: dropping off the coffee creamer with the hopes of interacting with another human tonight. She’s not at home, so I head to Home Depot because I have a coupon I’ve been trying to spend since BEFORE HALLOWEEN. It’s for $5 off anything in the lawn and garden part of the store, which is perhaps the most boring part of that place. And besides, I’ve already been to HD about 4 times in the past month trying to spend the same coupon but I’m STILL surprised when there is nothing really new.

After contemplating an axe or machete for a Christmas gift for Kenny (bad idea, I know), I settle on two small succulents to replant my succulent terrarium oh, say, the fourth time? I only spend $.72 though, so my bad gardening skills have yet to put a large dent in the budget. I set them on the backseat of the car and say a little prayer that they’ll be okay on the ride home, not even noticing the conveniently located cup holders, which would have worked perfectly for transporting these guys.

meijer and home depot haul

I then realize that I’ve created a WHOLE bunch of work for myself. I not only have to wrap the 3! gifts I got for Kenny before he gets home (after cutting out the UPCs for the rebate…is that tacky?), but I also have to plant these dear little succulents. I zoom onto the highway with then intention of heading straight home. It’s around 7pm at this point, so can we just pause and ponder the fact that I spent the last 2.5 hours in 4 stores? I’m a master at wasting time.

Oh, but then I remember that the thrift store that is right on the way home is open late on Thursdays in December, so I get lured in to that too. I consider purchasing several things, but in the end leave emptyhanded after lingering awhile.

I finally arrive home and have to make 3! trips to get everything I’ve accumulated over the day inside. Luckily, I get the closest parking spot, so it’s not horrible. But I do have to clean dirt out of the back seat, because surprise! the succulents had the nerve to tip over and roll around a bit.

I check the mail on my last trip in to the apartment and am pleasantly surprised to find an unexpected package. I open it to find this little guy, which I ordered for free from a recent Hip2Save/Zulily deal. I had intended to give this as a gift to someone for Christmas, but selfishness won over and I’m totally going to keep this planner for myself.

mailbox freebie!

I then look up to find my kitchen looking like this:

chaos kitchen

Not really enjoying the fact that I can’t see my counters, I buckle down and unload all of the groceries and then get really excited about replanting the terrarium.

Halfway through the replantage with my hands covered in dirt, I realize I’m still dressed to the nines in my work clothes but there is no stopping me for that minor inconvenience of changing my clothes. Gardening in work clothes it is.

succulent terrarium shenanagins

Oh, yes, I did wear striped socks to work. No one sees my socks, so that’s fine, right?

I make short work of the terrarium and admire it for a few seconds before clean up the dirt and drop the spoon I used as a shovel into the dishwasher (eh, shouldn’t have admitted that on the internet). I then change into my nightly uniform of yoga pants and remember that I wanted to turn on some Christmas music the moment I got home. Better late than never, right?

succulent terrarium with rocks and bark!

I next tackle the wrapping of Christmas gifts. I get distracted halfway through by the internet, but when Kenny calls to say he’s on his way home, I leap into action once again.

I also realize I’ve eaten nothing for dinner, so I snag another cookie and put it off for a little bit longer. I’m in the wrapping ZONE and get about 7 gifts wrapped.

But then I realize that the apartment is a disaster and that Kenny will be home in about 15 minutes. I make haste to tidy up the bathroom (still messy from the morning) and wrapping zone, and then I quickly make the bed so I’ll look like an awesome wife when he gets home.

I finish cleaning in about 7 minutes, so I have a few spare seconds to read, but I run into a dilemma. Do I continue the juvenile science fiction book I’ve begun (Ender’s Shadow)? or do I switch to something more…socially acceptable, like Godric by Buechner? I obviously settle on sci-fi, because, well, Godric is written in iambic pentameter, and you can’t just start a book like that with only 5 minutes to devote to reading it.

Kenny arrives, bringing leftover pizza. Putting off dinner worked well in my favor tonight! I’m pretty ravenous so I trade him a slice for a cookie. We discuss our days, watch 2 TV shows, and head to bed. (Wild ones, we aren’t.)

As I lie in bed, I contemplate how awesome it would be to have a cat to keep me company during these long, lonely evenings. Right, Ken? Right?

If someone wants to back me up on this one, that would be great. Oh, and if you want to reassure me that my Thursday night actions are not that of a crazy person, I’d accept that too.

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Delicious Meijer Savings (in which I give unsolicited advice on how you can keep more of your money)

Kenny and I put 45% of our income from November into savings, which we’re pretty proud of.

Don’t worry; because this isn’t a personal finance blog, I won’t break down every last little detail. But, as an aside, I really really love PFBs.  It’s the geeky side of me coming out again.

But since this is the blog about my life, I do occasionally like to share some of the ways I save money without going (too) crazy.

First, though, I’d like to show you what I came home to last night:

Cake from Ken

Yes. My law-school-student husband made this for me. Nevermind that it is exam week. #shakesheadaffectionatelythenchowsdown. He is handsome and he bakes. I am so blessed.

I had just come from Meijer, where I got these delicious foods at great prices. If you’re interested in how, read on. And if you have any holiday entertaining to do, you should be interested and you should read on, because these would be great baked goods to take to a party. I’m not sure if the Red Velvet cupcakes will make it out our door, though. They look scrumptious.

P1020609

Though these deals are specific to this week (12/9/12-12/15/12) and to Meijer stores, the same principles can be applied to most grocery stores at any time. If Meijer is not your preferred grocery store, Google your store name, the date, and “coupon matchups”–hopefully you’ll find some helpful bloggers out there catered to your store.

Here’s how I saved about 70% on these groceries:

Krusteaz Cookie Mix is on sale for $1.59. The box claims it makes 3 dozen cookies, so it probably makes about 12 Bauman-sized cookies.

Get a $1/1 Krusteaz Cookie Mix printable coupon HERE (when you click on the link on the page). You can usually print 2 coupons from most websites by accessing the link twice, so I did that with this coupon.

Total: $.59! And, when I scanned the boxes at the register, out printed the coupon you see in the picture for another $1 off, so I’ll go back later this week and pick up another one! And Kenny and I will just live happily off baked goods forever!

Duncan Hines Decadent cake mix is on sale for $2.50 (actually 2/$5, but at Meijer that does not mean you have to purchase 2 to get the sale price).

If you have an MPerks account (Meijer’s online coupon clipping program), you can “clip” a buy 1, get 1 free coupon for this product. You’ll type in your MPerks account number on the self scanner or credit card machine at checkout to redeem this.

That in and of itself is a great deal, but it gets better: this week, when you purchase 2 boxes of this cake mix, you can get a FREE 32oz Meijer brand Canola or Vegetable Oil bottle! The savings will come off automatically at the register. Don’t do like I did and accidentally grab the 48oz bottle and have to trek from the cash register across the store in uncomfortable wedges to fetch the right size.

I also picked up 2 frozen Jack’s pizzas (on sale 4/$9 or $2.25) and used 2 $.75 off coupons (that can be printed from here), making each $1.50.

When I got home, I checked my mailbox on the way into our apartment and had a coupon for free Yoplait yogurt waiting in there that I’d signed up for a few weeks ago! Yum.

And then, I went on the internet and discovered that you can get a coupon (actually 2, since you can usually print 2 online coupons each time) for $3 off 3 Smart Balance products here when you send ecards to 3 Facebook friends (send one to me if you want!), and Meijer has Smart Balance Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil on sale for $.99. WHICH MEANS THAT YOU CAN GET 3 FOR FREE. FOR FREE. That is, if you’re not morally opposed to anything that isn’t quite real butter. I love grocery shopping.

If you want to see other Meijer deals for this week, go here.

See? Saving lots of money on delicious food is easy. You don’t have to become a crazy coupon lady like me (I place myself into that category because I own and rock a coupon wallet that fastens with velcro)–you can just be awesome and keep more of your own money. And you know I’m all for that.

Now, go forth and save.

Want to learn how we’re saving a BUNCH of money on Christmas presents this year? See this post on using Swagbucks. Also, check out this post if you have a birthday coming up!


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Grocery Savings (in which admit I am a lunatic who took pictures of my Meijer receipt)

and am now blogging about grocery shopping.

Now that I’ve weeded out the blog-readers-who-aren’t-really-all-that-invested in this, uh, incredibly boring topic, let’s talk coupons.

Tonight, I spent a total of $.21 on $28.26 worth of groceries. (Actually, we returned 10 pop cans, so they sort of paid us $.79, if we’re getting all detail-y).

I then got more awesome coupons at the register.

And that was after I found this coupon on the floor.

I don’t know how these things happen to me. But it is awesome when they do. So, even though Kenny mocks me when I pick up coupons off the ground, I’m still going to do it, just in case this ever happens again. An embarrassed husband is worth it.

Saturday I faced the throngs at Meijer and got $13 worth of groceries for -$3. THEY PAID ME. Thus, I will keep shopping there.

Here’s how I do it (apart from scouring the ground for coupons).

Saving Addiction is a West Michigan-based blog that (in my opinion) posts the most comprehensive Meijer deals around. They look at what’s on sale each week and match it up with what coupons are out there. Then, they go above and beyond the call of duty and put a red check next to what deals are awesome (like run out the door right now type of awesome) and a green check next to what deals are good but slightly less awesome.

Here’s an example of their weekly Meijer match-ups. You can find this by going to their “Store Deals” tab and clicking on Meijer and then looking for the correct date range (“Meijer 9/23/12-9/29/12” for example). It takes a bit to learn coupon lingo, but Saving Addiction has some good info on the whole process.

Another great deal-saving site is Hip2Save. Just click over there right now, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Hip2Save is a great source for freebies and national deals.

If you love Target as much as I do, Totally Target has all of the best deals there. And did you know that TARGET HAS COUPONS? Here. They’re lovely. My favorite are the occasional apparel coupons… I’ve gotten free clothes that way.

If your shopping habits are exactly the same is mine, these three sites should do it for you. But if you have the exact same shopping habits as I do, that’s creepy. Go find your own money saving blogs for the stores you shop at on a regular basis and do your wallet a favor. 🙂

Here are some general tips I like to keep in mind while shopping:

*Have access to a printer for printable coupons. You don’t actually need a newspaper to get coupons. And SmartSource sends coupons out in the mail on Fridays, at least in my area (they’re just jumbled with a mass of other coupons that are definitely throw-away-able).

*DO NOT throw away those Meijer coupons they spit out at the register. They are sometimes really awesome, especially lately.

*Always carry your coupons with you. You never know when a good deal will bite you in the face.

*Purchase items when they’re a good price, and don’t just wait until you need that item. Having a stockpile isn’t all that bad, and you’ll definitely save money in the long run.

*Only buy things that you’ll actually use at some point. No use in having a gajillion Hungry Man dinners clogging up your freezer if you detest the stuff. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way.

Now tell me about all of the money-saving secrets you’ve been keeping from me. It’s time. I think our friendship has at least progressed to that level, right? And I definitely want to know about your greatest deal. This might be my favorite topic ever.